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Outcaste

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In sociology, a person who is stigmatized or otherwise denied the benefits of a culture, usually for being perceived as being outside the social norms of that culture. The Sikh tradition does not recognise castes or other such discriminatory classifications in human society. All human being are considered equal before God.

In the Hindu caste system, a Dalit, often called an untouchable, or an outcaste, is a person who does not have any varnas. Varna refers to the Hindu belief that most humans were created from different parts of the body of the divinity Purusha. The part from which a varna was created defines its social status for issues such as who they can marry and what jobs they can do. Dalits fall outside varnas system and have historically been prevented from doing any but the most menial jobs. Included are leather-workers (called chamar), poor farmers and landless labourers, scavengers (called bhangi or chuura), street handcrafters, folk artists, clothes washers dhobi etc. Traditionally, they were treated as pariahs in South Asian society and isolated in their own communities, to the point that even their shadows were avoided by the upper castes. In India, discrimination against Dalits still exists in rural areas in the private sphere, in ritual matters such as access to eating places and water sources. It has largely disappeared, however, in urban areas and in the public sphere, in rights of movement and access to schools. The earliest rejection of discrimination, at least in spiritual matters, was made as far back as the Bhagavada Gita, which says even they (along with women and despicable foreigners) are not barred from enlightenment.

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